What was the biggest take away from this piece?
My biggest take away from this piece revolved around two things, organization and tool learning. I approached this project like a music recording project because I thought I would be able to apply those skills to it, but this animal was quite different. In terms of organization, the tricky part about collaboration sometimes is being on the same page with the material and how it will be stored and used. On the same note, it was tricky trying to finish a task and learning how to use the tool to finish the task simultaneously. Also, more options are better in the long run in terms of having footage to edit. I think we limited ourselves to a specific aesthetic, and sometimes that’s good, but we afforded ourselves little flexibility in the long run. Last but not least, things always take 5 times longer than anticipated, so more time to do the project would’ve been nice.
What were you trying to say with this piece?
I would’ve liked to explore the idea of the possibility of communicating with nature a little deeper. Also, I would’ve liked to explore the thought of plants having a nervous system that suffers when it is consumed by human beings. We (as humans) don’t really take into account that a plant JUST MIGHT feel it. I would’ve played with dialogue of plants criticizing our naivety or blatant limitation our five senses keep us in.
Overall, how was your process?
I think the process had its up and downs. We were very excited to execute at first, but our limited time to produce turned our aspirations into a bit of a burden. I personally enjoyed editing more than pre production. I have a clearer understanding of the direction of the project at that time, so it let’s me make more informed decisions. I also lost myself a bit because of the fact that someone else started the editing process. I prefer more control, so I know where everything is and I know where it’s going.
I imagined this piece to be listened to while you’re walking down into the subway system. It follows the storyline of Blood Child quite accurately, with a hint of artistic freedom. The backround lazer scape sound is a slowed down track that Jinhee and I found online at a royalty free sight. The broken glass is ripped from a youtube video. The animal sounds at the end as well. Everything else are field recordings, i.e footsteps, door closing, the shaking of utensils in a mug.
All the sounds are super effected. Everything has delay. Most sounds are compressed.
Response to the reading and the video:
In the Ecstasy of Influence Jonathan Lethen is extensive in his scope on matters concerning originality in art.
I’ll break it down with the points I think are most important. Beginning with the reality that we do not live in a vacuum, especially as artists, we must fall in love with the art.. and by falling in love I mean living and breathing and understanding every corner of its essence. We must dive into whatever makes us tick and really know how to break it down to an atomic level. I like to call the action “connecting dots.” Personally, most of my education (or what stuck with me) came from the art I consumed. I made sure to research what artists inspired the artist I was digging at the time, plus just every minute detail of their lives. I wanted to understand how they got to where they were, artistically. This inevitably takes you through a timeline that contextualizes human social history at whatever point in time you are in.
The first band I fell in love with was The Beatles. Without going into their story I pieced together that they were children of WWII, growing up in bombed out England, from broken families, listening to American blues. From this I can gather a specific story of why they would care about the things they cared about, why they made the music they made.. why they were them.
Take it to Jamaica around the same time (1960s) and Lee Scratch Perry was making due with the most infamous of makeshift studio setups, producing the most influential of all Caribbean music, inspired by Motown, inspired by his tools, inspired by his own culture.
Now let’s take it to 2016 and we are superficially (b/c art in pop culture is business) regressing to find inspiration in genres that came from very authentic, one of a kind places. I don’t know if the impetus is to capture a sentiment that has already existed or if we are just so lazy to be inspired by our own lives, or perhaps our post modern life is just that uninspiring. but let’s just get something straight. Although plenty of music is made by people of color, the music industry (if it still exists) is just like any other enterprise of Capitalism, it is a system of perpetuating white dominance.
So when something that is being made that is inspired by cultures other than the dominant white culture, yet is pushed by white culture, and usually renamed in order to claim ownership is the paradigm, because, (let’s face it, white american culture doesn’t offer much flavor.. so I don’t blame them) this is called appropriation. Appropriation is wrong on so many levels, but the most important level being that if you aren’t “friends” with whoever you’re jacking, you’re creating a double standard for yourself, (as a white person.) You are taking something from someone that you don’t value on an everyday level, taking from them what makes them unique, and commodifying it to fit your financial desires. And let’s be extra clear, white is a state of mind, not a skin color per say. I’m usually fine about taking ideas from here and there, but I think that what ultimately makes it a positive or a negative.
As for Kirby Ferguson and his “everything is a remix” argument, it really doesn’t surprise me that he is a “white man.” He claims that everything is a remix, but his examples were so innocuous. Of course it’s going to seem like not that big of a deal when Bob Dylan is jacking ideas from people within his socio economic level. Why doesn’t he talk about Taylor Swift, Vanilla Ice, The Rolling Stones (their whole repertoire), Eric Clapton (I shot the sheriff)….Then the lines wouldn’t be so blurred, would they? (no reference intended) It’s all good, Justin Bieber, but wtf do you know about dembow?!
Response to Blood Child:
I must admit that I usually don’t fare well when I have to imagine a whole new paradigm of a world, or perhaps in this case, re imagining the world we already live in, in some nearby future, when the poles decide to switch places. It took a bit to get used to the language, but it was a well thought out story, with a few holes missing. What I really want to know is how the Terrans arrived to their new planet, and why Tlics cannot bear their offspring without help from the Terrans. On that note it was interesting to find such a symbiotic relationship ocurring between the two. I actually think it’s perhaps the most overlooked of details, despite it’s emphasis on gender role reversal, in particular, when T’Gatoi is impregnating Gan. But yes.. for the first time in “human” history the invader (Terrans) have succumbed to the position of bargaining in the name of survival instead of having the upper hand. Of course, Gan’s position as martyr plays with the concept of the “hero” by essentially emasculating him, which I thought was super. I think it pokes fun at our idea of hero as this super powerful alpha male position, but in actuality, it wasn’t even his choice. His savior like qualities are quickly diminished by these facts.
Again, I thought it a smart poke at some of the elements of human life that reflect a certain hierarchy, in particular, our patriarchal society. But most importantly, it points out our vulnerabilities as humans as future extra terrestrials, and ultimately, the patriarchy responsible for the exodus is to blame.
Reaction to East Village Sound Walk:
It kind of makes me really upset to go through this walk, going down St. Mark’s in particular, knowing that it used to be really cool and now it’s lame as hell. I remember when I was a teenager I would take the train into Manhattan and walk down St Marks with my friends and there would still be some vestiges of what we still wished it was. We had Coney Island High, the 5 dollar pitchers of (underage) beer, the heroin heads in Tompkins, the punks. etc. I’m not trying to glamorize the shithole that NYC once was, (and still is.. albeit in a very different way.) …but it’s really funny how, slowly but surely, St. Marks became this ironic disneyland of itself, or better said, of what it used to be. East Village 2016: Now we have CBGBs as an invisible gravestone that Varvatos took over. We have Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer staring back at us on the walls they used to piss on, almost in disgust. The East Village still wants to sell that seediness that it was known for, and still tries to recreate to a certain extent, but the people that live here now would probably look the other way if they ran into Strummer or Ginsberg or Debbie Harry on the sidewalk.
Allen Ginsberg, probably the most prominent Beat Poet of the East Village, caught onto this even while it was still “cool.” Ginsberg lived on 13th st, when 13th st still had Italian and Puerto Rican gangs, when burning stolen cars was a past time on the block he lived on. He was right on point about the Gentrification Process, even being inspired by it through works like The Charnal Ground and Howl. To add more irony to the whole picture,he even had all the elements of a pre gentrifier, except he was what the 2016 gentrifiers wish they could be like.
Perhaps what stuck out about this walk is that poets like Ginsberg and Boroughs and countless others, they were really an integral part of the neighborhood, they were the reflection that they saw in the streets and subsequently held the mirror back at society successfully. They made poetry pop culture, not a small feat. They were successful as artists, even if they were poor, and that is what made them so important. The Beat Poets, along with the Newyorican Poets like Pinhero, and Basquiat, who used words just as much as paint and glue… were inspired by NYC life and turned it into ART.
What is Interaction?
Until very VERY recently, I was always turned off by “technology.” My argument would revolve around a sort of nostalgia for previous technological advances that seemed so commonplace, for two reasons.#1. I really enjoy simple, intuitive interfaces. I dont enjoy spending more time learning how to use something than actually using it. Plus, I always feared that after learning how to use something, two things would happen. Either it wasnt really what I was looking for or it would soon become outdated. So I gravitated to things that stood the test of time. Which brings me to my second reason. If something can withstand the test of time, this means that there is a certain amount of quality involved.
As a musician especially, I also really held onto the idea that we (in the community of musicians) fell into two distinct categories. ANALOG vs DIGITAL.
I certainly fell into the analog side of life. Besides the rhetoric of music sounding better recorded on tape vs wav files, there was a then intangible argument that I couldn’t quite articulate about my preference.
And even though I most definitely enjoyed and respected digitality in the process of making music, ( especially drum machines and synths) I still felt like there was something missing.
I realized what it was!
I spent a lot of time in my years as an amateur producer recording on my 4 track tape machine. I also daisy chained my various guitar pedals ( delay, phaser, etc) and ran them through my drum machine. I would create a pattern on my drum machine, but the real fun for me was moving all the knobs around on the pedals. My instrument would essentially be the knobs on my guitar pedals. I felt like a mad scientist, making my frankenstein beats, twisting and turning to my hearts content. It felt good to touch and move the knobs around. it was an intuitive action. i move the knob a little to the left, it makes this sound, more to the left, more that sound.
When I got protools a few years later I was very excited to finally have a seemingly more powerful instrument to record on. Little by little, however, I was turned off by many things. First, I hated staring at a screen for hours on end. Secondly, no knobs to twist around. And most importantly, NO TAPE HISS! Plus, I just love watching the tape roll while it’s recording…. In the end the recordings seemed cold. No personality, no life.
I ultimately treated my protools setup like my 4 track. I didnt use any edit functions. The only real use I found for it was the endless amount of tracks I could use to build my songs. I couldnt spend time learning how to use it bc the interface just turned me off so much. To me, the 4 track was sufficient enough, and subsequently became my go to, after ditching protools almost completely.
Although in “the art of interactive design” crawford explicitly points out that interaction requires 2 actors, and within that parameter a conversation takes place, (the 4 track is hardly an actor) … It happens to be much more of an active actor than a protools setup. And even still, I think the 4 track has a mind of its own, especially when the signal starts to clip. you can feel the saturation, the overload it is trying to process. The experience of recording in analog is much more interactive in general. Real instruments are being played (i.e guitar, which is made of organic wood that is indeed “alive.” In this case, the guitar is being affected in the exchange just as much as me, playing it. It wears and tears, and the cyclic process of an interaction starts to take shape: listen, think, speak.
Similarly, on “a brief rant” by bret victor, one of the strongest points for me in his essay is his definition of a tool. “address needs to amplify human capabilities.” Although he made a strong point of the importance of the hand, its nerve endings, in short, it is our window to the world.. and there is hardly a difference between typing, swiping, and turning knobs in theory, … in practice it is actually quite different. when turning knobs we are also touching different equipment, plucking strings, banging on things, using “real” instruments to produce sound. The experiences are worlds apart.
The analog way addresses human needs without making our nerve endings on our fingers go numb from lack of use. Sometimes, the most simple instruments are what keeps us from losing our human-ness, by being closer to the process, by being active WITHIN the process, and not just fullfilling some sort of binary questionaire in a homogenous “pictures behind glass” paradigm.